Pujara’s comments came ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand, slated to begin on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton. Earlier this year, an injury-ravaged India had managed to defeat Australia 2-1 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and then the side defeated England 3-1 to enter the finals of WTC.
“Personally, it means a lot to be here because I just play one format, it means a lot. We have worked really hard over a period of time to reach here. I am sure all the guys are looking forward to playing in the finals. Winning the finals will mean a lot to us, but even reaching the finals, the team has worked really hard for two years. Playing in different conditions in one particular day here is the most challenging part at times for a batsman,” Pujara told bcci.tv.
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“If it rains, you go off the field and suddenly, it stops raining and then you start again. There are breaks in between and that is where you need to understand the challenge. Mentally you need to be strong, concentration needs to be there. New Zealand will have the advantage of playing two Tests before the WTC final but you know, when it comes to the finals, we will give our best. We know our team has the potential to win the championship,” he added.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said that leading the side in place of Virat Kohli in Australia was the proudest moment for him and he also talked about the upcoming WTC final.
“Over the last two years, we have played consistent cricket as a team. Reaching the finals of the World Test Championship is a result of that. It was not easy as Test cricket requires you to give your best at every stage. We started the WTC cycle against the West Indies, and ever since then, we have done well as a unit. We will think of the WTC final as just another game, we have gotten good preparation time here in Southampton. I am excited and as a team, we are really excited, we will look to give our best in the finals,” said Rahane.
“As a batsman, you always say that you love challenging conditions, and England is such a place. If you get set, it is a very nice place to bat. As a batsman, I always believe that when you play the ball late, it will be better. As a batsman, you are never set here. One ball and you can lose your wicket. When I led the country in Australia, that was the proudest moment for me. Winning the series after losing the first match, it was really special and it is a very big thing for all of us,” he added.
On Sunday, New Zealand defeated England by eight wickets in the second Test to clinch the two-match series 1-0.
The Indian cricket team had landed in Southampton on June 3 and after that, every member of the touring contingent underwent a three-day mandatory hard quarantine. At the Hampshire Bowl, the players were tested again before commencing a period of managed isolation. Regular tests will be conducted during the period of isolation.
Prior to departing for England, India head coach Ravi Shastri had said that going ahead, the International Cricket Council (ICC) should look to make the final of the WTC a best-of-three contest and it could be played like a three-match series.
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